In the event of a mine fire, roof collapse or explosion, mine rescue teams may be tapped to search for colleagues disoriented by toxic gas, trapped beneath layers of rock or severely injured. The teams undergo rigorous training to develop skills that often save lives. Those skills will be put to the test July 27 through 29 at the 2010 Metal/Nonmetal National Mine Rescue Contest, held at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada, according to a press release from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). The contest is sponsored by MSHA and will feature 38 teams from 16 states, including eight teams from Nevada.

"Mine rescue teams are essential to the safety and health of our nation's miners," said Joseph A. Main, assistant secretary of labor for MSHA. "They spend countless hours preparing for an emergency they hope never happens and they hold themselves to the highest standards, even in competition."

The contest consists of several events. In the field competition, teams must navigate through a simulated mine emergency while judges rate them on how well they adhere to mine rescue procedures and how quickly they complete specific tasks. In the first aid contest, emergency medical technicians tackle real-life scenarios. The technician team must make necessary checks of equipment to see that it works properly, including multi-gas instruments, self-contained breathing apparatuses, portable communication systems, and other available mine rescue equipment and supplies.

At the conclusion of the three-day event, an awards banquet will be held Thursday evening at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno.

For a complete list of competing mine rescue teams, visit

To see photographs and contest winners, go to